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Raft of Stars: A Novel Cover Image
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Staff Reviews


If you like adventure stories with great children characters this is a magnificent well-written novel.  Fish and Bread are on the run from a possible crime.  Hot on their heels are Fish’s loving grandfather, the naïve well-meaning sheriff, Fish’s mother whose faith will encircle them and a poet searching for her place in the world.  There’s fast-paced action, an unrelenting river, wild animals and the boys who long to survive and do the right thing.  This is for you if you liked This Tender Land or Secret Wisdom of the Earth.  I LOVED it - “sail away from your troubles on a raft made of stars”.

— From What Karin is Reading

Description


“A rousing adventure yarn full of danger and heart and humor.” —Richard Russo

An instant classic for fans of Jane Smiley and Kitchens of the Great Midwest: when two hardscrabble young boys think they’ve committed a crime, they flee into the Northwoods of Wisconsin. Will the adults trying to find and protect them reach them before it’s too late?

It’s the summer of 1994 in Claypot, Wisconsin, and the lives of ten-year-old Fischer “Fish” Branson and Dale “Bread” Breadwin are shaped by the two fathers they don’t talk about.

One night, tired of seeing his best friend bruised and terrorized by his no-good dad, Fish takes action. A gunshot rings out and the two boys flee the scene, believing themselves murderers. They head for the woods, where they find their way onto a raft, but the natural terrors of Ironsforge gorge threaten to overwhelm them.

Four adults track them into the forest, each one on a journey of his or her own. Fish’s mother Miranda, a wise woman full of fierce faith; his granddad, Teddy, who knows the woods like the back of his hand; Tiffany, a purple-haired gas station attendant and poet looking for connection; and Sheriff Cal, who’s having doubts about a life in law enforcement.

The adults track the boys toward the novel’s heart-pounding climax on the edge of the gorge and a conclusion that beautifully makes manifest the grace these characters find in the wilderness and one another. This timeless story of loss, hope, and adventure runs like the river itself amid the vividly rendered landscape of the Upper Midwest.

About the Author


Andrew J. Graff is the author of novel Raft of Stars. His fiction and essays have appeared in Image and Dappled Things. Andrew grew up fishing, hiking, and hunting in Wisconsin's Northwoods. After a tour of duty in Afghanistan, Graff earned an MFA from the Iowa Writers' Workshop. He lives in Ohio and teaches at Wittenberg University.


Praise For…


“An adventurous tale of misfit characters and a humble riverboat.”
Parade (“A Must-Read Book of Spring”)

“The characters are expertly drawn in their shifting relationships . . . Both an engaging adventure and a profound reflection on human bonding, what it means to be a man (and a good one), and the importance of persevering. . . . Highly recommended, whether you want literate thrills or thoughtful, affirming meditation.”
Library Journal (starred review)

“The wilderness odyssey that shapes Graff’s rewarding coming-of-age debut has a timeless, archetypal resonance. . . .  Graff depicts the harsh Northwoods setting and his misfit characters’ inner lives with equal skill. The dynamic quest narrative offers plenty of rich moments.”
Publishers Weekly

"Rural Wisconsin in the mid-1990s is the setting for Graff’s memorable story of loss, violence, adventure, and redemption. . . . Graff’s characters have heart to spare, and his affection for this rugged part of the country is infectious. His coming-of-age story offers us nostalgia and escape, and he reminds us that while freedom can be elusive, the people who love you always make your life worth living.”
Kirkus Reviews

“Reminiscent of stories like Stand By Me and Have You Seen Luis Velez?, Graff's debut novel will enchant fans of Chris Cleave and Melissa Bank. Graff's narrative voice is lyrical, with a Southern Gothic edge that fits surprisingly well with the Wisconsin Northwoods setting. Exploring the necessity of the stories we tell ourselves to survive, Raft of Stars is a clever, compelling coming-of-age tale.”
Booklist

“I had no idea people wrote books like Andrew J. Graff’s Raft of Stars anymorea rousing adventure yarn full of danger and heart and humor and characters worth worrying about. It’s as if, after observing the deplorable state we’re all in right now, the author took it upon himself to raise our collective spirits. Bravo!”
— Richard Russo, author of Empire Falls and Chances Are...

"Graff has crafted not only an adventure story with a warm heart at its center, but a whole town of characters for readers to fall in love with."
— J. Ryan Stradal, author of The Lager Queen of Minnesota

“In ruggedly beautiful prose, and with a deep affection for his damaged, but always loveable characters, Graff delivers a novel with real heart and soul.  An authentic look into the heartland of America, into one-parent households, where mothers and grandparents are supporting the next generation while fathers are either absentee, or should be.  Like a barrel going over a waterfalls, Raft of Stars sweeps its reader downstream, and fast.  Hold on for the ride.” 
— Nickolas Butler, author of Little Faith
Product Details
ISBN: 9780063031906
ISBN-10: 0063031906
Publisher: Ecco
Publication Date: March 23rd, 2021
Pages: 304
Language: English